A friend told me today that I am a “freak-magnet”. Am I? I love to eat Count Chocula – or Captain Crunch Berry Cereal cereal in bed while watching Kottan ermittelt. Does this attract freaks? But honestly, I see a lot of crazy/weird stuff on a daily basis.
Am I a freak magnet? I think I am. Well, there was this rather weird looking gentleman on the U1-train in the early morning hours who wore a suit that smelled like puma-cage and a bowler hat. Nothing wrong with that you may think. Maybe he forgot to take a shower or get the suit to a dry cleaner. But both of his thumbs were covered in something that looked like cream. I hope it was. He just sat across from my son and I at 7.10 am like a boss. Maybe this is okay. Who knows. What is normal?
Is it normal to try to find your son who said he will “just walk over the bridge to some other playground” and didn’t show his face for thirty minutes? Hell yes. So I climbed (elegantly like a gazelle) over the tiny, thin, small fence, and got caught because I wore my Birkenstock sandals (real German). So, I am hanging on the fence trying to get down. It hurt. Badly. Eventually, I fell down onto some train tracks. “WTF?! Train tracks in the park? I hope nobody sees this misery, ” I told myself while a bunch of people stared at me while waiting for the train. A rather tiny but long train arrived right then and there while I was on those f***** tracks holding my crotch and foot. “GET OFF THE TRACKS, LADY”, the locomotive driver yelled while the train made the loudest emergency whistling sound. I was able to crawl off it just on time while EVERYBODY looked at me. Missing: Blinking lights and red arrows pointing at me but all this wasn’t necessary because I assure you, EVERBODY looked anyway. Well, my son found ME because of all the commotion on the train tracks. He instantly wanted to go for a ride on that thing but, for some reason, I thought it won’t be a good idea. At least not today. The locomotive driver shook his head “no” and rolled his eyes anyway.
Rain on the way home and I observed a couple who had a fight on the train because she made some jokes. I cannot remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud. The man turned around and said, “Stop that! I don’t like it.” The woman dropped what she was doing, and went black in her eyes for a second. “I don’t fucking care if you like it, ” she said. The man was visibly startled and I observed how, with that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. She made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute or how he wanted her to be. She wasn’t there to play around and she didn’t care if he liked it or not. She just made a joke. I smiled at her because I thought it was really funny and happy. Weirdly, I remember thinking: I want her to be my friends. She seemed awesome!
My hat goes off to her because it is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist. So, my unsolicited advice to anyone is: When faced with sexism, ageism, lookism, or whatever else -ism, ask yourself the following question: Is this person in between me and what I want to do? If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. The energy is better used doing the work and outpacing people that way. As far as work goes, I wouldn’t hire the people who were/are jerky or put them in positions they are not suitable for. And I won’t promote people who try to sleep their way up. I would promote those who are simply good at what they are supposed to do at work. Those who do the work and go a little bit beyond. Those who tell the truth. Those who are professional, real teammates, and know what to do when shit hits the fan.
There is a more difficult road ahead though. I suggest modeling the strategy after the old Sesame Street film piece “Over! Under! Through!” If you are under thirty you might not remember this film. It taught the concepts of “over,” “under,” and “through” by filming toddlers crawling around an abandoned construction site. They don’t show this video anymore because someone has since realized that it is nuts. Which it is.
Talking about nuts: Is there such a thing as an all-jerk workplace? Of course, yes. I would flat-out avoid working with for example Wall Street traders or the women who run the changing rooms at H & M at Mariahilfer Strasse. If you are lucky, your workplace will have a neutral proving ground. But rule number one is: Always treat people nicely who clean, and provide food, water, heat, and cold.
In the end, if you don’t like something (your job), change it. Stop complaining. There is always a door to walk out and look for something better. Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go “Over! Under! Through!” and opinions will change organically because you are the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing and don’t care if anybody likes it.